by Joel Comiskey, Summer 2012
Who will care for the children? Everyone. Intergenerational cells ask everyone to be involved. The focus of IG cells is to reconnect the generations. I love Daphne Kirk’s book
Reconnecting the Generations: Empowering God’s People, young and old, to live, worship and serve together. She titled this book perfectly because all generations have a vital role in the body of Christ.
What Daphne Kirk is trying to say to the church when using the term “intergenerational cells” is that we have to work together to raise up the next generation. Since the main image for the church in Scripture is “the family of God,” we all need to participate to make the family a reality for the younger and older. We all have to pitch in to help each person grow in Christ.
I believe the early church had an advantage in understanding intergenerational cell groups. After all, the early house churches were made up of generations living together. Connecting the generations was the norm in the early church. The ancient world didn’t even have a word for what we call the “nuclear family.” Michael Breen writes, “None of the Biblical languages have a name/word for nuclear family. The only word used for family is extended family. The familiar language of the Bible references the extended family as oikos: household, house or family. We have put another filter in the way, called nuclear family” (quote taken from Breen’s blog at AnglicansUnited.com). The ancient oikos of the Roman empire included “not only” immediate relatives but also slaves, freemen, hired workers, and sometimes tenants and partners in trade or craft.
An intergenerational cell highlights the old, middle-aged, young, and youngest (children). Can adults rotate to lead the children’s cell? How about adolescents taking on the on the children’s cell group? All three of my daughters began the process of cell leadership by taking the children from our family cell into another room and teaching them. I’ll never forget when Sarah, my oldest, led her first person (child) to Jesus. It was in a children’s cell at my house. Nicole, my second born and Chelsea, my third born, teamed up to lead the next children’s cell. Like all other leaders, they had to pray, prepare a lesson, plan out the activities, and deal with issues that came up. During the refreshment time, they would often share with the adult cell what they learned.
Intergenerational cells prioritize the generations working together to make sure that each person can experience the family of God in its fullness. What has your experience been with intergenerational cell groups?